The $162.4M gross is within the range that the industry was seeing ahead of the weekend, even if it’s at the low end. That’s likely down to somewhat higher initial expectations for China. But social and critical scores were a hobbler there. Maoyan is currently predicting a $250M finish for the Justin Lin-helmed F9, which would still be well above spinoff Hobbs & Shaw and which, at any time, is a perfectly respectable number: F9 is the first Hollywood tentpole since Avengers: Endgame to post a $100M+ opening in China.
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Overall in China, F9 launched Friday with $59.1M (including midnights), the 2nd biggest opening day of the pandemic behind Detective Chinatown 3. The weekend’s IMAX result of $12.4M is the 3rd best China opening weekend ever for the month of May, as well as Universal’s 2nd best China opening weekend in the format.
One of the really great takeaways from this weekend is the Korea performance of F9. The market has been severely depressed of late and a $9.9M start offers promise. Bowing on Wednesday (a local holiday), F9 scored the biggest opening day of the franchise and the pandemic as well as the 3rd best opening day ever for Universal. Exceeding 5M admissions faster than any Hollywood title in 2020/2021, F9 also had the best debut frame for a studio movie during the virus crisis. The Saturday to Sunday drop was a mere 10%.
SATURDAY UPDATE: With just eight markets in release, Universal’s F9 has propelled the Fast & Furious franchise across the $6B mark globally. The Justin Lin-helmed actioner has an estimated international box office cume of $127M through Saturday, and is eyeing a weekend total of $160M+, a sum we floated in our preview earlier this week.
In China, F9 has grossed RMB 680M ($105M) through Saturday, already the biggest Hollywood opening of the pandemic era. It is on track to become the 2nd biggest opening for Universal and the Fast Franchise in the market behind The Fate Of The Furious. Saturday’s estimated take is slightly below Friday’s numbers, which is likely due to soft social and critical scores. Normally, Sunday figures will be below Saturday, but there is still a chance F9 hits the projected $140M across the China launch frame. Maoyan, for its part, is now predicting a final tally of $244M for the run.
On IMAX screens in China, F9 bowed to $5.5M on Friday which is 9.4% of the total gross from just 1% of the screens. The result is the biggest IMAX opening day in the Fast franchise as well as the biggest opening day for any Universal title. It is also the 5th highest opening day ever for any film in China.
Elsewhere, Korea has F9 at a strong $7.7M through Saturday; great news for a market that has been depressed of late. The Vin Diesel-starrer is on track for the top studio opening weekend of the pandemic.
Russia’s cume through today is estimated at $6.4M, also on track for the biggest opening weekend of the pandemic.
The Middle East has cumed $5.5M through Saturday with Saudi Arabia eyeing the nascent market’s biggest opening weekend of all time. The UAE is at $2.3M through today, making F9 the biggest debut during Covid. Likewise for Egypt and other Middle East markets.
Hong Kong, which opened in step with Korea on Thursday, has F9 at $2.2M through Saturday, already scoring the top weekend bow during the virus crisis.
Full update to come on Sunday.
FRIDAY UPDATE: Universal’s F9 officially launched in China today with an estimated $59.1M (RMB 380M) to score the biggest Hollywood opening day of the pandemic era and the 2nd biggest of the pandemic behind Detective Chinatown 3. The Wednesday and Thursday openings from Korea, Hong Kong, Russia and the Middle East brought F9 to a cume of $10.7M, and Friday’s opening in China lifts the running international box office total to $69.8M. The total cume through Friday is not yet fully clear as some markets are still reporting. We do know that Korea added $1.07M today, which pushes the Justin Lin-helmed Fast entry past $70M.
For the Fast Saga in China, the F9 Friday launch (which includes Thursday midnights) also ranks as the 3rd biggest opening for UPI behind The Fate Of The Furious’ opening Friday and F7’s opening Sunday (which, in turn, are among the top three all-time highest grossing films in China).
There’s no doubt F9 had an enviable start in China today given the current global context. One area of concern is the film’s Middle Kingdom social and critical scores, which are low compared to previous entries in the series. F9 is currently carrying a 5.7 on Douban and an 8.1 among Maoyan audiences. Nevertheless, Maoyan is predicting a $297M finish for the film (a figure it has been re-jiggering all day, and will likely continue to do so). There’s not a lot in the way of F9 over the coming weeks; let’s see how the weekend pans out.
Elsewhere, the Middle East opened with $2.26M on Thursday. Saudi Arabia grossed $995K for the biggest opening day of all time and more than double other openings since the start of the pandemic. The UAE launched with $930K for the biggest opening day of the pandemic era.
Russia, through Thursday, has cumed $2.7M including Wednesday previews. Korea, after bowing to records on a holiday Wednesday (see below), and seeing an expected dip on Thursday, bounced back on Friday by 24% versus the previous day.
We’ll have more updates over the weekend
THURSDAY UPDATE: After beginning early overseas rollout on Wednesday in Korea and Hong Kong, Universal’s F9 continues speeding along. The two-day total from those markets as well as Russia and the Middle East is pointing to a $10M+ cume through Thursday. This does not include today’s midnights in China which are estimated at RMB 59.4M ($9.2M). Factoring those in, the latest entry in the Fast & Furious franchise is already at $20M+ before the Friday/Saturday/Sunday session.
F9 officially opens in China on Friday, and pre-sales through Sunday are currently at nearly RMB 226M ($35M). This is about on par with 2017’s The Fate Of The Furious. We are still waiting for social and critical scores for F9 which can have great impact on the ultimate results.
In the meantime, and looking at the details, Korea has grossed $4.3M through Thursday after delivering a record bow on Wednesday as the biggest opening day of the Fast franchise, the top opening day of the pandemic and Universal’s 3rd best debut. The Toretto family capitalized on the public holiday of May 19 (Buddha’s Birthday) with Uni’s biggest footprint ever of 2,265 screens. Notably, F9‘s Day 1 grabbed 84% of the market share and was 32% bigger than the sum of the previous three-day frame. That’s good news overall for a market that has been depressed of late. On Thursday, F9 continued to dominate with an 85% share and grossed 973M won ($900K) for the day. The 2-day total is 4.8M won ($4.3M).
Elsewhere, Russia/CIS started previews on a non-traditional Wednesday, grossing $1.4M and taking 82% of the market share. Hong Kong achieved a record breaking opening day on Wednesday at $800K. F9 had 80% of the market share and set multiple records. It was the biggest opening day of 2020 and 2021, the biggest single day in 2020 and 2021, the all-time biggest Universal opening day and the biggest opening day for the Fast franchise. Egypt also bowed Wednesday with a good start of $35K, which makes it the biggest pandemic opening day.
More to come throughout the weekend…
PREVIOUS, WEDNESDAY: Universal’s F9 put the pedal to the metal in its Korea bow with $3.4M (3.9M won) on day one today. That’s the best opening day ever for the Fast & Furious franchise in the market, as well as the top opening of all films in Korea since the pandemic began — even coming in ahead of last summer’s smash Peninsula which had a 2.9M won debut.
The Justin Lin-helmed F9 is dominating ticket sales in Korea, scoring $2M in pre-sales across the five day opening, the biggest advance bookings since the start of the pandemic. Exhibition, we hear, is being extremely supportive — the CGV circuit is offering free popcorn to F9 audiences throughout the first week of showings. At over 2,200 screens total, Universal has set a new record footprint.
This is a strong result in a market that has been depressed of late, owing to some reticence to return to cinemas amid Covid spikes in the past few months. However, with a major new tentpole in play and given today was the Buddha’s Birthday holiday, folks flocked to the return of the Toretto family. Korea has grown as a Fast Saga market with 2019 spinoff Hobbs & Shaw the biggest so far ($27M cume at historical rates).
Rollout continues on Thursday in Russia and the Middle East. In the former, pre-sales have reached 24M rubles, the biggest number since the pandemic began, while also above The Fate Of The Furious (22.7M) and just below F7 (26.7M).
China midnights will also kick off on Thursday. Currently, pre-sales for the opening day there (including the sneaks) are at RMB 86.3M ($13M). Advance bookings through Sunday have reached RMB 114M ($17.7M). The industry has been expecting a three-day Middle Kingdom launch of about $140M while overall the range is in the $160M-$180M neighborhood for all overseas markets releasing this weekend as we reported on Tuesday. More will become clear once China has started in earnest and social and critical scores are available.
We’ll have updates throughout the weekend.